32-year-old Maria Vasquez was found murdered in her apartment. Lt. Kirschenbaum let me join him in the investigation.
She lived on the 10th floor of the Hancock Apartments. A resident reported hearing the shower going for over an hour. They tried calling her, but she didn't answer. Finally, the super broke in. He found her lifeless body in the running shower—with her clothes on. She had on a red dress and black stockings; her shoes were on the side. The official cause of death was strangulation.
I let Carl and his boys lead the investigation. Then I walked up to him.
"Carl, I've got an idea about this."
"Good. Tell me."
"Not yet. When you know all the suspects, I'd like you to gather them in this apartment."
"Jenny, that's a murder mystery cliché!"
"I know! But I feel it fits, in this case."
"OK, Jenny. I'll contact you, when we know more."
A week later, all the suspects were gathered in the apartment. They were:
*Timothy Butler, her ex-boyfriend. It was revealed that they had some "words."
*Sally Johnson, her BFF. She wasn't really a suspect but wanted to be there out of loyalty to Maria.
*Robert Ferber, her boss. It came out that he was in love with her.
*Ben King, a neighbor. He was seen lurking around her apartment.
The appointment was 2:00PM. The apartment was nearly empty of furniture by now, but management provided chairs.
"I'd like to thank all of you for coming," I said. "My name is Jennifer Mason, better known as Barefoot Jenny, and I'm a private detective who's assisting police on this case.
"There is a fact about this case that intrigued me—the fact that Ms. Vasquez was found in a running shower with her clothes on. Can any of you think of why this was so?"
There were murmurs.
"She struggled with the murderer and they ended up in the shower," suggested King.
I shook my head. "Then he would've also gotten wet, and we'd see his tracks on the carpet. Besides, why did the shower get turned on?"
He said nothing more.
"My theory is that she was put into the shower after her death. Can anyone think of why?"
"To wash off the blood," said Butler.
"She was strangled; there was no blood."
No one else spoke.
"So why the murdered did this, in my view, was sexual."
There were murmurs.
"You see, some men are attracted to the sight of women who are soaking wet with their clothes on!
"So, the murderer strangled poor Maria, then dragged her body to the bathroom, turned the shower on, and put her body into it. Perhaps he meant to eventually take her out if it. But maybe he heard voices, so he panicked and got out with the water still running.
"And now, I'd like to try a little experiment. Come with me, please."
I led them into the bathroom. I turned on the shower and adjusted the heat. Then I took my shoes off and got into the water!
There were more murmurs and even some giggles! Suddenly, Sally came up. She also took her shoes off, then she joined me!
We stood in the water for a while. And then, I noticed something: One of the suspects was definitely getting aroused! He tried to hide it, but I could still tell.
"You!" I shouted, and I pointed to him.
He tried to run but was quickly caught by Carl and another officer. They led him up to me.
It was Ben King, the neighbor!
He made a full confession:
"I'd seen her a few times, and I wanted to go out with her. So, finally I knocked on her door, that Saturday. I told her about myself and asked her if she would like to go out with me. She refused. I pleaded, and she tried to close the door on me. I guess I snapped. I grabbed her neck and squeezed it tightly until she stopped struggling. I guess I should've just left right away, but then I got this crazy idea: Why not put her in the water! So, I dragged her body into the bathroom, took her shoes off, put her in the shower, and turned it on. I was gonna turn it off, but I heard voices. So, I just quickly got out and left. I'm so sorry!"
He was read his rights and led away.
Sally and I were given much needed towels.
"Thanks for helping me out, honey," I said.
"Sure. Anything to catch Maria's killer."
"Including getting wet!"
She laughed. "Including getting wet!"
Ben King ended up in a mental hospital.
Sally Johnson and I ended up becoming good friends.
Maria's family gave me $5000 for catching her killer. Pretty good for getting all wet!